This print collection is one of co-cultural artefacts with a storytelling narrative, each one an archival and emotional piece of artwork based on the close relationship between artist and Babushka.
Co-Designed in person, together with the Babushkas and featuring motifs from their traditional embroideries.
The extensive design process began with personal research in 2016 and discovering, collecting and photographing the historic textile work of the women still living in the exclusion zone, Chernobyl, Ukraine. We bonded and became close through many visits, stitching together and talking about our shared love of embroidery and their textile history.
Embroideries were generously shared or donated, others found in homes evacuated and abandoned since 1986. All the women want their ‘work to live on when…[they] have gone’.
The Babushka Neckerchiefs
These neckerchiefs were inspired by the light, summer headscarves that the Babushkas wear on very hot days whilst outdoors or working on their land. The Babushkas wear woollen scarves most of the time, these can be lightweight or much heavier for winter. Silk scarves are rarely worn, thought too luxurious for the everyday but carefully wrapped and laid in a drawer like a treasure and, perhaps gently brought out and worn on major religious holidays or other special occasions.
Their embroidery motifs and patterns used to be either copied from their headscarves or traditional paintings, or sometimes they were bought from that villager who could draw (or copy) floral motifs; these are the very special regional examples likely to not be found elsewhere.
These designs are by Tatiana and Valentina and in a choice of [almost neon] colours.
‘Through informal interviews and just chatting about their embroideries with the Babushkas, I discovered that when synthetic ‘wools’ in neon colours became available in the early 1980’s they would unpick one of the colours from an earlier stitched work and replace it with the jarring almost fluorescence of the ‘modern’ fibres to bring the work up to date.
This practice is directly referenced in much of my own works and is a key link between my work and that of the Babushkas.’
Cotton 'Kerchief [Babushka & Me]
Neckerchief Size: 44cm x 44cm [approx.]
Carry Gift Box Size: 15cm x 18.5cms x 8cm
Material: 100% Cotton Lawn [washable at 40°, medium-hot iron]
- Machine-stitched edges
- Digital print with...
- Redacted screen-print [the negative evidence] critically underlines the impending disappearance of this community and gives depth to the piece
- Each one is unique due to the variables of the hand screen printing process
- Launching at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, November 2022, together with film of the artist
Tie one around your neck instead of jewellery or at a jaunty angle, tie your hair back or use as a band or bag or belt accessory. Or frame it.
‘Participatory action research (PAR), ‘values and uses the ‘lived experience of people’ as a way of democratizing inquiry and in some cases empowering marginalized groups’ (Reason cited in Gray and Malin, 2004, p.75).
50% of profit from this product will be donated to the Babushka’s of Chernobyl.
Available to pre-order.